Can't believe my puppy is 6 months already! She still looks and behaves very much as a puppy. The good news is that Bu finally doesn't find her all that scary anymore and they finally started to play together, they're really cute!
Bi is still somewhat more fearful as I would wish for, she still takes her time to get used to new things and noises. She can finally ignore the traffic passing by - but anything new still makes her run inside: like the motor-cycles the other day, she found those REALLY scary.
But on another hand, she behaves really confidently in agility environments. I had a seminar in Italy recently and while I though she might get scared of a hall and noises inside, she didn't mind it at all. We finally had an opportunity to run some mini courses again and she is doing really well. She still doesn't understand the direction of cik/cap, but she reads my body language very well and has no problems with either front or rear crosses. I don't specifically teach those, no, I think a dog with good forward focus and long history of playing and running with the hander shouldn't have any problems understanding any of those turns, they just come naturally for them. I don't like to do big deal out of simple things and mostly just let the dogs pick up things somewhere on a way.
Our plank work is still going really well. I actually do some less of it now as it got somewhat boring as she is always right. So I decided to play with turns a little.
This is a big change, I never introduced turns so early in the process, mostly because La never had problems turning after dog-walk. Bu is somewhat different in that respect, so that's one reason and another one is that this year, all (with two exceptions) judges in Slovenia started a war against running contacts. Don't ask me why, but their whole course design is sometimes aimed just to eliminate those with running contacts - mostly unsuccessfully, so one even went so far as to set a jump so that a wing of the jump was straight after a contact - less than 2 meters away! When we complained about it she said that it's allowed as that jump is not the next obstacle after the dog-walk! She might be right, but hey, in 15 years of competition, I never saw any other wing set 2 meters straight after another jump, tunnel or not even weaves, so I'm not sure this will be a big hit... Well, none of our dogs broke their neck, most of them got the contact and a turn anyway and some of them (like Bu) were too intimidated by that wing to run all the way down.
That's why with Bi, I decided to teach her that the criteria (ie. running all the way down) stays the same no matter what. Of course, I started very gradually, I just set a jump after which there is her toy, somewhat to the left/right. - No problems at the beginning, but as expected, her contacts did get worse at one point of putting a jump more and more to the side.
We then finally agreed that that's not how we make contacts and the following angles all went real nice: I first moved a jump further to the left/right, then rotated a jump perpendicular to a plank and finally brought it closer. She didn't jump again, but her last stride was getting more and more to the side of the plank and also somewhat higher. To stop this pattern, I put a pole at the end of the plank, to one side of it, to mark where she can start her turn. She understood it immediately and that pole helped me a lot with further moving of the jump. I rotated it some more and now I have it parallel next to the plank and am bringing it back more and more. It did somewhat affect her speed over the plank, but the contacts are mostly good. I occasionally still do some straight forward contacts too, for me to see if they're still good and for her to see the difference between the two type of handling and verbals (running + "go, go" vs. hanging back + "left/right", said already at the top of a plank). Straight forward contacts don't seem to be a problem at all, but there is still room for improvement in turning contacts.
That's all agility that we have done so far. But our plank work is coming to the end now, partly because it's going so well that the only step left is a normal dog-walk (and we will wait with that one some more) and partly because we're moving back to Ljubljana in a week and won't have room to do it then, so we'll need to find something else to write about then:).
We still work a lot on our heelwork - I already thought it looks pretty good, but after seeing the pictures, I see that she is actually too much ahead. Guess I just got my homework:). Of course, we still do some tricks every night. Since I clicked "head down" three times, she now always does head down too when told to lie down - no need for DNK test, she must be a daughter of her father:).
5 months (and something)
By now, we've got a full set of new teeth, ears are getting higher (and not at all smaller:) again and she measures 49cm and weights almost 12kg. And how to describe everything we have been doing those two weeks in short? We did quite some hiking, playing, swimming, playing in the snow, running the plank, tricks... Maybe lets focus on three topics:
Heeling is one of my favourite exercises to train and I'm somewhat obsessed with beautiful heeling, my puppy students can tell you... High head, high front legs, low rear end, perfect position and perfect focus is a must, there is no other way out:).
Being enthusiast I am, all my puppies were heeling beautifully till age of 3 months and perfectly till the age of 4 months... Until Bi. She might be a dog of many talents, but she has absolutely no talent for heeling aesthetic:). She learned the position next to both legs through the trick of circling with hind feet when front feet are on an object with no problem. But when I started to walk, it got terrible, she was looking up at me, but with a low, BC head... I tried to shape higher head, but there was nothing to shape, her head was fixed in that BC position... I could only get high head when sitting in the position, but she carried it really low when walking...
So we limited walking to minimum and just did sitting in the position and one little tiny step forward to another sit etc. That made her jump from one sit to another, but hey, I take a jump over low head anytime! So I started off clicking jumping and then shaped first steps of Spanish trot (kicking front feet high up) from there. Still lots of work as we still do just few steps and then either click if it's good or go to another sit to fix the position if necessary, but after so much work, it's a really beautiful sight by now. I never thought heeling can be so much work! Guess you need to learn something new with every new dog!
And to answer everybody asking if I use a leash to teach heeling - of course not!!! I don't use a leash in dog training at all!
2. running contacts
After a hard beginning, it can only get better and better then! Bi's plank story is actually the same as with heeling, it seems like she has some serious problems telling how much is 1+1, but her PhD work is brilliant!:) Into smaller pieces you're trying to break the behaviour, less she understands - and then after days of not getting anywhere, like with higher head, she says, "oh, so you want high head, perfect position and Spanish trot - why didn't you say so in a first place, I can do that!" or when I tried to get the running on a flat board, it was the same, after few days of just jumping, she said: "oh, so you want me to run on this plank, preferable taking the last stride from the very end of a plank, no matter which angle - why didn't you say so in a first place, I can do that!" - and she does exactly that from that day on, no matter on what height I set the plank, her success rate doesn't drop at all on new height.
But she still needs a toy to focus her ahead. I don't need to throw it anymore for her to chase, I just leave it something like 10m after the end of the plank, usually behind a jump (with bar on the ground) or baby tunnel that I borrowed (thanks Dasha!). Then I restrain her at the end of a table and then let her run over the table and a plank to a toy. That way, she is 100%, either I run with her or stay behind. Without a restrain, it's somewhat worse as she starts off slower and then doesn't get as deep down the contact, but she is still always in the contact and doesn't jump at all. I click about 90% of her contacts, I leave out the highest ones and I jackpot the deepest ones.
However, if I don't leave a toy out there, it's not good at all yet, she looks at me then, so we don't do any of this just yet. I recently started with a toy after a tunnel or jump so that they will eventually take the role of taking her eyes off me.
I'm afraid my wild pup will need to learn some manners afterall. The first rule we set is that we do not attack Bu when excited. She finds that one extremely hard and breaks it any time she can... Yeah, as I said, I'm terrible when it comes to teaching manners...
Another rule is that we do not jump on table. She thought it's really fancy when she managed to jump from the floor straight on the table one day, but is now pretty good at staying off - BUT we still need some work to do about stealing from the table, she still does that... I guess it has something to do with the fact that I find it really funny when she steals something and is then so proud of herself to do a victory dance with it in her mouth, throwing her legs everywhere, with her ears flying all around, she is just sooo funny, I need to get it on camera once!
And the third rule is that not everybody is our best friend, so there is no real need to jump into the face of everybody we meet. She still does it at home and on our agility field, but it's much better on walks now. It's really cute, but somewhat dangerous as she already crashed into people's heads - and once she even overjumped a friend that bend down to say hello. Yeah, she prefers to jump up to say hello:).
pictures from our